Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

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mackay11
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Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by mackay11 » 28 Apr 2013, 23:48

This coming week I'll baptise my 8yo son. And yet I'm not even sure I believe the church he will become a member of is anything more than a man-made construct for explaining the meaning (or meaninglessness) of life.

I guess everyone eventually reaches a moment of having to make a decision. I've been struggling with my faith for over a year and I seem to be like a pendulum, swinging in and out of confidence in the principles and foundational claims of Mormonism.

Whenever I read of people joining or leaving the church there is usually some kind of story or moment of crisis or questioning. I wonder whether this is mine.

My son is a very smart kid. He sits and reads for hours. He loves fact books. He recently completed a school project on persuasive writing which was themed on how to convince his parents to do something for him. He chose 'How to get more books on science.'

His baptismal interview was a bit of a sham. He's quite uncomfortable around people he doesn't know well, so I asked to sit in with him. He answered, mono-syllabically, with a 'yes' or 'no' in all the obvious places. He's a deep thinker and has a lot of questions about life and its meaning. But the Bishop just needed to check he 'believed Joseph was a prophet' and that he'd 'repented of his sins.' (what sins?! He's 8!)

The baptism was in no way pushed by me (and obviously not my wife), he was the one who spontaneously said he wanted to be baptised a month or two ago. I'm not sure why. I guess his big sister's example and that of his church friends/teachers instruction will have had an influence. I'm aware I'm baptising someone who believes the words of people he trusts. He also believes in a fat man bringing him gifts at christmas from lapland and a little woman with wings taking an old tooth and replacing it with cash. We mock other denominations for their infant baptisms - but do we really do anything different?

I've tried to focus on the positives. I've tried to remind myself that living the gospel makes me a better person and helps me have a stronger and clearer role in life. But I am gradually losing even the small confidences I once had in the church as "the best place" for me and my family.

I know these things have been bubbling for a while. I guess my son's baptism being so close has been the "moment of crisis" that has made me realise how far my faith has moved from orthodox mormonism. I'm not sure I can fit in any more. I sit and grimace through most of the 3-hour block on a Sunday. I have to constantly replace words in talks/lessons or add words to the end of sentences in my head to just make it palatable. I've been teaching Primary for a few weeks (to cover a teacher) and I've been shocked at the simplistic misinformation and one-dimensional view of the world. My kids are starting to wonder whether their Mum is a 'bad person' because she doesn't go to church like their friends' mums or occasionally has a coffee. I frequently reassure them otherwise. I struggle to enjoy the scriptures anymore because of the similarly offensive dismissal of non-believers. They used to be fine but now those passages are talking about the wonderful, generous, caring woman that I'm married to. And she's none of those things. Maybe they're even talking about me.

I'll do the baptism anyway - but I don't feel great about it.

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SamBee
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Re: Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by SamBee » 29 Apr 2013, 05:18

Eight year old plus sins? Of course. Lots of bad things they can get up to such as lying, stealing, bullying, anger etc
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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Martha
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Re: Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by Martha » 29 Apr 2013, 06:02

I am sorry you are hurting. I feel that I am close to reaching my moment as well. Church yesterday plus the stake women's fireside was very difficult. There were two shiny moments. One was a story about choosing love over punishment when dealing with children. Choosing love is always good. The other was the sacrament. Despite everything, I am glad that I was baptized and I am happy to renew my baptismal covenants each week. I do consider myself a follower of Christ. Whether man or God (and I tend to believe the second), I love the words of Christ. I am willing to keep the commandments and I am willing to take on his name. I feel the purpose of life is to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. Maybe it's a construct, but for me it represents my commitment, my covenant to try to become more Christ-like and move forward with my eternal progress. So even though I was only 8 when I made that decision, I am glad that I did. I don't think of my baptism as Mormon. I think of my baptism as Christian.

You son sounds like an awesome kid! I wish you and him the best.
There are innumerable definitions of God, because His manifestations are innumerable. They overwhelm me with wonder and awe and for a moment stun me. But I worship God as Truth only. I have not yet found Him, but I am seeking after Him. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Thankful
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Re: Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by Thankful » 29 Apr 2013, 06:20

I kind of felt the same when my son was baptized last year. In fact, it brought up A LOT of my questions, frustrations, and confusion around the church. It's kind of a turning point. I don't really have much wisdom to impart, just that I know where you are coming from. I still struggle with those feelings. I don't know for sure that raising my son in the church is the right thing to do. I am glad we had him baptized though, because he wanted to. It was a chance for us to support him in something that was important to him.

Oh, and for what it's worth: my husband baptized my son. His faith is likely more far gone even than yours. :o) He's been a non-believer and not attending church for 10 years now. But the bishop said he has the priesthood (never had his name removed-just "inactive"), and he's the Dad. The bishop didn't see lack of faith as a reason to disqualify my husband from a role that should be his, as a father. My son wanted his Dad to do it.

My husband said "no" for a long time. He didn't want to pretend to something he didn't believe, and felt it was disingenuous. But it was very important to my son that his Dad do it, and his Dad is NOT "unworthy." (And if anyone tries to imply otherwise they'd better stay far away from me or they'll regret it.) In the end my husband saw it as a ritual to celebrate our son growing up, and unify a community in support of him. So he decided it was a chance to celebrate and bond with his son, and felt ok about it.

I get entirely where you are coming from. I hope this helps.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 Apr 2013, 07:51

I was a lot like your description of your son when I was eight. I'm glad I was baptized and don't regret it at all.

Don't project your own concerns onto your son. Your type of crisis is not guaranteed for him, unless you push it on him. If he never experiences it, his baptism will be a blessing; if he does experience it, you crisis will be a blessing. Either way, you can lesson the likelihood of such a crisis for him - and you might raise a future leader who will make a difference.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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On Own Now
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Re: Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by On Own Now » 29 Apr 2013, 11:13

mackay11,

First, sorry you are feeling the weight right now. It's tough, and I hope you are able to come to a position of peace.

You've heard some great thoughts from the previous posts... just thought I'd throw out one other thing. It might be helpful to think of the year 2023. Your son will be turning 18. A young man with the whole world in front of him. How old will you be? Think of how you will feel if he is preparing to go to BYU or to leave on a mission. Is it OK if you and he share different beliefs? Will it be OK for him to know that you don't believe the same way, and will it be OK for you if he is a full believer?

One thing that has helped me is to realize that by my kids knowing that I'm not a believer, they have a little more sense that it is their decision. That's a bit different to how many LDS youth grow up, just going from Primary to YM to EQ without any driving desire. My kids have the opportunity to take it wherever they want, and so far, they have stayed in the church.

I'm certainly not trying to talk you into staying. You have to do what is right for you and your family, and the reality is that our situations are different. But I do hope for you to find the right way forward for you and family.

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SamBee
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Re: Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by SamBee » 29 Apr 2013, 11:48

By the way I think it's a good thing you're doing the baptizing.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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mom3
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Re: Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by mom3 » 29 Apr 2013, 14:39

Mackay -

I don't share this story very often. It's personal and real but I hope it might give you some peace with your son. I was raised in an orthodox home. I was the oldest child and at 8 I was baptized. It was my choice completely. Part of my upbringing though included 2 wonderful inactive/unorthodox grandparents who I loved. They didn't directly help at all in the baptism prep. They didn't even attend, but my Grandmother was always very clear about the importance of Christ in people's lives. I do not know if that seed was in my heart as I walked out of the font after the baptism or if something higher had hold of my heart but,

As I stood in the small room, just off the font, freezing cold, dripping wet, waiting for my mom - a personal covenant crawled out of my heart. I have no other way to explain it. It was real. I remember it. I keep it to myself, but it was between my heart and deity.

It is one of the strands that holds me connected to mormonism. It is part of why I love the sacrament - it's my connector to that moment. Most of our lives we really don't know who directs or influences us - sometimes it's clear but others are beyond our explanation. All we know is that we are drawn to something - like a favorite color. This is one of those for your son. Where he will go, what he will do and what it will mean to him, none of us can be certain. Where ever it is, he wanted you there. Congratulations.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Roy
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Re: Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by Roy » 29 Apr 2013, 14:57

mom3 wrote:This is one of those for your son. Where he will go, what he will do and what it will mean to him, none of us can be certain. Where ever it is, he wanted you there. Congratulations.
Way cool Mom3! Thanks for sharing.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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On Own Now
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Re: Uncomfortable (but too late) about my son's baptism

Post by On Own Now » 29 Apr 2013, 15:04

mom3,

Thank you for your post! I know it was directed to mackay11 and his particular situation, but I found your experience and thoughts to be very helpful to me as well.

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